With climate change and the rapidly-shifting natural environment a trending topic at the moment, we felt it would be pertinent to discuss roadside littering, its effects and what should be put in place to prevent it. As a logistics company, we spend a huge amount of time on the road and with that in mind, littering is an issue we feel obliged to address.
Just recently, BBC Breakfast host Dan Walker spoke on the programme about the issues of littering and the sheer lack of excuses for leaving behind rubbish. Commenting on his local park over the Easter bank holiday weekend, he found it left strewn with waste from people that had spent the day enjoying the sun just feet away from a bin. Understandably, there aren’t always bins on roadsides, but this certainly doesn’t give one the right to dispose of something out of their window. It doesn’t take much to keep a hold of your rubbish and throw it away when you’re near a bin.
The RSPB and Keep Britain Tidy have reported that shrews, bank voles, wood mice and other animals can get stuck in discarded bottles and die. The ring pulls on cans also pose a threat with smaller animals choking on them, and hedgehogs can get their heads stuck in empty cans. According to the Local Environment Quality Survey, there had been a significant decrease in plastic bag littering after the introduction of the 5p charge. It is of course encouraging to hear that people are reducing their plastic consumption – however, it has also found that littering remains a significant problem.
Every year Highways England clear 180,000 sacks of litter from motorways and major A roads, a shocking statistic that shouldn’t be this high. In 2015, the cost of picking up litter was £1 billion in the UK, money that is spent purely due to the carelessness of drivers. That statistic alone should be an eye opener: imagine all the other important areas of our country which that sum of money could be spent on. It has never been easier to recycle and to dispose of goods with an abundance of recycling centres open, and we as a country have the potential to make a positive change on the natural and urban environments of the UK – all it takes is for everyone to contribute in some way, no matter how big or small.
How could this issue of roadside littering be tackled? More awareness could be raised with television campaigns and in the media, showing the effect littering has on our natural environment or a representation of just how much it costs to clear up litter in the UK every year. When it comes to roadside littering, the implementation of road signs to warn against littering or fly tipping would be a good way to reinforce the issue. Alternatively, using service station signs to let drivers know there’s also an opportunity to dispose of any rubbish.
In the UK, local councils can charge up to £150 for littering from a vehicle, but perhaps the severity of littering needs to be addressed with the potential for a more expensive fine. More CCTV could be supported with tougher fines, which then go on to offer an even better chance to discourage anti-social behaviour in the future.
When you’re next on the road and in a safe area to get out of your cab, we encourage making a conscious effort to pick up any litter you see, this can make a small contribution to a much bigger environmental campaign to keep our country clean. Professional drivers can be leading examples to all road users.
Let us know on Twitter what you do to help prevent littering in your area or on the road.